Over 100 victims of rape, assault, arson, and other crimes have started recording statements at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters today, in a surprise move that comes more than a decade after the onset of Kenya’s 2007/2008 post-election violence (PEV) in which 1,200 people died.
The statements were taken by a team of detectives led by Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti who said that it was time for the victims to get justice. A total of 118 statements were recorded, out of which 72 were homicide cases while 44 were violently kicked out of their properties.
“We have told everyone to write the truth of what happened. We have told them not to fear… The government has given us firm instructions to ensure that never again should we go collecting bodies and having mass graves in this country because of elections,” he said.
DCI Kinoti said the government will ensure that all the post-election violence victims will get back their property.
“We have heard the victims’ cry and emerging threats and we are promising them that they shall not even be scratched on the same account again,” Mr Kinoti said.
He also spoke about the Kiambaa Church tragedy in which more than 30 people were burnt alive.
“Come here and see the number of children who were burnt in the church. There were people who were pushing back those escaping from inside the burning church,” he said.
The DCI boss said that detectives will present the cases in court, in which they will prosecute those who committed murder and took property not belonging to them.
The top detective said that the move to record statements will be followed by a meeting with Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and Interior CS Fred Matiang’i after which detectives will move to the field to get more information from areas that were most affected by the violence.
“There are no criminal cases which are closed. The entire criminal system is competent and will handle these cases once we have finalised with the investigations,” Mr Kinoti said.
DP Ruto reads mischief
The issue of the 2007/2008 PEV had mostly faded from mainstream political discourse until early this year when Deputy President William Ruto said he had received information from the country’s top spy, Major General (Rtd) Philip Kameru, about a move to revive the cases.
DP Ruto said he believed the move to re-open PEV wounds was meant to derail his 2022 presidential bid.
In an interview with NTV, he spoke about a plan by a “cabal”, a term he used to describe an alleged group of powerful people in government, to restart the crimes against humanity cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“I had a discussion with the Director General of NIS late last year and for your information, there are characters who have already sent characters (referring to individuals) to Kenya to resuscitate the ICC cases against me,” he said in the interview.
Early last month, Paul Gicheru, a lawyer who appeared on record for DP Ruto in his case at the ICC, surrendered himself at The Hague despite having court orders protecting him from extradition to the international court
It is the first time that the government is stepping up efforts to investigate and bring to justice those who committed crimes in the 2008/2009 PEV.
Investigations failed to kick off in the past due to a deeply divided political climate. While the ODM side favoured seeking justice against those incriminated, the state was unwilling and fearful about opening old wounds. Victims were also afraid to testify in court.
When the Committee to Investigate Post-Election Violence chaired by Justice Philip Waki investigated PEV , in its recommendations issued in October 2008, the committee included the establishment of a special tribunal to hear cases against those accused of serious crimes.
The Committee recommended that if a local special tribunal is not established, the cases be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Waki’s team handed over a sealed list of 20 offenders which included ministers, MPs and government officials, all said to be mostly from the Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities.
However, MPs in February 2009 refused to support the move to establish a special tribunal with Kalenjin MPs leading the objection while ODM MPs supported plans for establishment of a local tribunal. After failure to reach consensus, the ICC decided to move in to investigate the violence.
In 2009, the government established a special witness programme to protect those willing to testify at the ICC.
A year later, on December 15, 2010, ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo issued pre-trial notices for crimes against humanity against six suspects, namely: Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, ODM Chairman Henry Kosgey, radio journalist Joshua Sang, Police chief Hussein Ali and former head of civil service Francis Muthaura.
Mr Kenyatta was the first Head of State to appear before the ICC after he was charged in 2012. His case was dropped in 2014.